Does agriculture policy really affect you? Whether or not you acknowledge it, yes, it does. Your farm, your community, and your region could be stronger if federal farm policy favored small and midsize family producers instead of big ag.

Take the Food Safety Modernization Act as an example. FSMA was signed in 2010, and was meant to increase the government’s ability to respond to outbreaks of foodborne illness. However, the proposed regulations would have made compliance cumbersome and expensive for smaller operators – to the point of likely putting out of business most farms in New England.

New England Farmers Union exists to make sure federal agriculture policies and regulations encourage – not inhibit – the success of our region’s family farmers. We bring together thousands of farmers in New England and amplify those voices.

We need to increase our membership to make that voice stronger. We need you to join New England Farmers Union. We must ensure that FSMA education and training is fully funded. We must work for federal programs that benefit local and regional agriculture, that foster innovation, promote scaling up, invest in infrastructure and increase access to markets.

We must make sure policymakers recognize that farms improve public health, create jobs in rural communities (and increasingly in urban settings), preserve open space, and serve the hungry. Your membership makes that case.

Simply put, we need more members that are more engaged in more states in New England so we can get better traction on policy that benefits all of us.

If you’re already a member, you know we recently conducted a member survey. We got a tremendous response from our membership; thank you to all who took the time to participate and share your views.

We received great feedback from members and learned that what 78 percent of respondents value most about Farmers Union is our commitment to being the voice of family farmers. Members also asked for a few things:

  • “New ideas that would help my nursery continue to grow and be profitable”
  • “Continued networking opportunities”
  • “Progress reports on both successes and defeats”
  • “Continued work protecting farmers in our region and highlighting how cooperatives secure a better food system”
  • We hear you and are working hard to meet your needs!

We were also glad to hear that members overwhelmingly supported our four core policy initiatives for the coming year:

  • Food safety training funding
  • Protecting mandatory conservation funding
  • Food hubs supplying institutions
  • Bringing farmers to the table

Farmers Union’s motto is “United for Family Agriculture.” When farmers join together to make our voices heard, we can accomplish much more than when we act alone. Growers have been working together since farming began to lend a hand when needed. Farmers Union takes that one step further. We set policy goals together and work to get them enacted in Washington, D.C.

Our policy priorities are set by our membership each year at our annual convention. This year, the convention will be held November 6-8 in Concord, New Hampshire. Please join us in discussing and voting on legislative priorities for the coming year and learn more about the work we do, hear from engaging leaders in federal and regional policy, and network with fellow farmers that hail from southern Connecticut to northern Maine, and everywhere in between.

If you are not a member, but farm in New England – or want to see a stronger agriculture sector in the region – would you consider joining us? Your membership is an investment in the future of agriculture. Become a member of New England Farmers Union today. It’s easy at our website, http://www.newenglandfarmersunion.org.

Photo courtesy Highwaystarz-Photography/istock